Surfing in the south of Portugal – everything you need to know from places to stay to surfspots and board rental in the Algarve.

Remember my first article where I write about how I started surfing in San Sebastian? Well, the lovely English girl from that story joined me on a little reunion surf trip four years later to a girls surf trip. As we booked everything very spontaneous, we even could check weather and wave forecasts and decide accordingly where to go. The Algarve looked quite pleasing in terms of weather and waves so we locked it down as our destination.

How to get to Sagres

We flew to Faro Airport in the south of Portugal. From there we rented a car (don’t get screwed with the additional insurance!) and drove down to Sagres. It takes about 1h25 to get there. As you will need a car to get around to surf spots I would highly recommend renting one right away at the airport. We had some fun times, driving on the wrong side of the road with a girl used to English traffic. If you rather take a bus, there are connections from Faro to Lagos and then from Lagos to Sagres.

Where we stayed – The Lighthouse Hostel Sagres

Our goal was the sweetest accommodation we found: The Lighthouse Hostel in Sagres. It looks as beautiful in real life as it did on the pictures. We were looking for a place where we can be to ourselves if we want, but also have company if we wish for it. We had a little bungalow with a kitchen and bathroom.

Every morning we would have breakfast at the hotel and go up to the roof for the most beautiful Yoga sessions you can imagine. I have tried various Yoga lessons and I have never felt so connected and taken away more than at this place. Anna and Jodie taught us some Yin Yoga, practising a full moon session and introduced the seven Chakras. It for sure was an amazing start in the day. As we were using lots of energy during the day we had some relaxing nights at the hostel.

An outdoor fireplace was lit every night so we grilled ourselves a fresh fish and next to it a cute little hostel bar with drinks – we could not wish for more. Except to have the house cat Simba around. Waiting for something to drop from the plate. The most special thing about this place was the people. Whoever we crossed paths with at the hostel, was enriching chatting to. There was a special atmosphere in this place which will ensure I’m gonna be back.

Board and Wetsuit Rental

The Lighthouse Hostel also offers some board and wetsuit rental. If you start to surf or are beginner/intermediate they have a great range of boards. As I wanted to improve my practice with a board the size I usually ride we went on to get another board at the Algarve Surf School, that teams up with the hostel for surf lessons as well. I got myself the brightest board you can imagine. After some initial doubts of being too visible in the water, I trusted my intuition of love at first sight and the logic of knowing the measurements of the board suit me very well. It was a pink Ferox surfboard. The Algarve Surf School has quite some shortboards to choose from. I personally always bring my wetsuit on trips. This was one of the first things I got myself when I started to surf. For our trip in September, I had a 4:3mm with me which was almost a bit too warm as we had nice outside temperatures.

Surf spots around the area of Sagres

It was for me the third time to surf in the Algarve, but the first to be there before the winter. Due to the swell direction, the spots we used to surf the past times, didn’t work that week. We got advice from Sarah our lovely host and as well Anna who was surfing loads during her time in Sagres.

We first tried out Praia do Tonel. A long beach right in the middle of Sagres surrounded by stunning high cliffs in terracotta colours. We were there during a weekend and it was very crowded what turned us off a bit as it became a bit messy and dangerous in the water with everybody taking off. For beginners, it can be a very cool spot though where you can surf whitewash but also small green waves in the back. Of course, always depending on the current conditions. You can park at the Sagres Fortress. Right at the beach, there is a little hut to rent wetsuits and boards (although I wouldn’t count on finding any shortboards there and check opening times) and a restaurant/snack bar.

In the afternoon of day one, we drove to Praia do Castelejo for a second session. We had a great view of the waves, driving down a beautiful narrow road to the beach. Although the parking seemed to be very full, the beach itself is so spacious that it did not feel crowded at all. Right in front of us, there were some beautiful 2-3 foot green waves. After observing some surfers I joined for a second session too. For me, this session was the highlight of our trip. The beach itself had a little restaurant at the entrance where you can also eat dinner with a great view. There is a little takeaway hut to get some snacks and drinks to have at the beach. And a little caravan with some boards and wetsuits to rent.

One of the most popular spots we surfed I reckon was Praia do Amado. A large beach further north in direction of Lisbon. With its wide stretch of sandy beach and rough cliffs at the edges, it is a beautiful spot to spend time surfing, relaxing on the beach and watching a cheesy sunset in the evening over a beer. Is has facilities like a little Caravan bar, some surf schools where you can rent gear or get lessons and not to miss: toilets. The beach is lifeguarded during the season as well.

Some other spots I surfed and can recommend are Beliche, Zavial and Praia do Arrifana. Just keep checking Magic Seaweed still the best page to get good information about swell size and direction, winds and wave periods. And ask the locals and surfers you meet along the beaches – it is always nice to not drive for ages to a spot, just to see it is flat. This, by the way, is how we made quite some friends along our trips so far.

We will be back in Portugal very soon, so I hope to explore some more spots and extend my Portugal surf travel guide with each trip.

Let me know when you are on the road and want to share a wave. Happy to connect with fellow surf girlfriends. I was overjoyed (and very proud) to see my friend progressing so quickly in the water, as she had a long break of surfing since we started together. There is nothing better than sharing the stoke over a wave with a good friend and to see someone developing the passion for surfing.

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